Jazz, the Braeburn/Royal Gala hybrid apple discovered in New Zealand in the 1990s, is set to become a major competitor to the premium-priced Pink Lady.
Relatively small volumes of Jazz imported from New Zealand and France in the past three years have proved popular with consumers, and production in New Zealand will be ramped up to meet expected demand. UK production is also to go up.
Volumes grown in New Zealand will reach 160,000 18kg cartons this coming season. Output is expected to rise to three million cartons by 2018 according to Gary Harrison, commercial manager of Worldwide Fruit, which has the UK marketing rights to Jazz.
The UK would ultimately yield 250,000 cartons a season, he said, and by next autumn there will be year-round UK supply available to retailers.
New Zealand fruit will fill the summer period between May and October, with the winter gap closed by a combination of crops from France and the UK.
France was now in its second year of production, with the potential for 100,000 cartons. This would rise to 750,000 by 2018, said Harrison.
Trials in the UK involving Tesco and M&S have been so successful that a planting programme planned for the next two years in Kent, Sussex and the West Country has been accelerated. All 200,000 trees available are now being planted this winter.
Some 20 of Worldwide Fruit’s English growers are involved in the project covering 80ha. The initiative represents the largest single-variety planting for years.
David Shapley